Historians affirm that Cádiz was founded more that three millennia ago and is the oldest inhabited city in Europe. Since then it has known many avatars, periods of boom and decline. Maritime and commercial, but above all lively and vivacious, Cádiz surprises and attracts immediately with its particular urban design, very rational, with straight and narrow streets, tall facades with well-made metal grilles, gardens with great botanical variety (some subtropical) at the edge of the sea, this sea that surrounds and embraces the áalmost-islandá of Cádiz. Through the monumental Puerta Tierra gateway, the well restored remains of the city walls, after crossing the long tongue of land that links it to the continent, we have before us the unusual city.

The Baroque cathedral, of charming cupolas and sumptuous interior, so different to the great majority of Spanish cathedrals, and next to it the primitive cathedral, Santa Cruz; exploring the compact and pretty old town, while visiting churches or museums, crossing over squares with an ancient flavour to them (San Juan de Dios, Mina, Constitución, España, Mentidero) where the flamenco songs and the carnaval verses, coplas, assault you wherever you go, each square with its style and its monuments, all different, all attractive, such as its oldest neighbours, those in the tiny Pópulo and la Viña districts.

The ancient áGadesá, for centuries the principal Spanish port, allied to America, was later (in 1812) the home to Spanish constitutionalism, and was the only city that did not fall into French hands as the place where the troops of José Bonaparte assaulted the walls of Cádiz.

The neo-classical Iglesia Oratorio de San Felipe Neri is worth a visit, the site where the first republicans debated the historic document for the first Spanish constitution (áLa Pepaá, as it is known).

The churches of Cádiz are usually Baroque or Neoclassical: San Antonio, El Rosario, Santo Domingo, San Francisco, Santa Catalina, El Carmen … and the classicism is present in many of the most significant buildings, such as the Diputación (council), a palace of grand porportions, the old Cárcel Real (royal prison) or including the popular Torre Tavira, the former lighthouse with its camera obscure offering 360 degree views of the entire city.

The museums, in a city so rich in history, are annother attrction, from what is popularly known as áTacita de Plataá, officially the municipal history museum to, and above all other museums, the Arqueológico and the Bellas Artes, with an excellent art gallery, impressive archeological finds and a sizeable ethnology section.

In February the Carnaval, here so justifiably famed, has its temple in the Gran Teatro Falla, named after the composer and favoured son Manuel de Falla (interred in the Catedral), a building recently restored and of a curious neo-Mudéjar style. Early in spring Gaditanos and visitors alike contemplate the processions of Semana Santa, Easter, seen at its most fascinating in the narrow streets of the Viña and Santa Maria neighbourhoods.

And the same in summer as in winter, the beaches, small like la Caleta or large like La Victoria, which have won prizes as best city beaches in Europe.


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